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Group A Streptococcus (GAS) is a major cause of global mortality, yet there are no licensed GAS vaccines. Vaccine progress has been hampered, in part, by a lack of standardized assays able to quantify antibody function in test antisera. The most widely used assay was developed over 50 years ago by Rebecca Lancefield and relies on human whole blood as a source of complement and neutrophils. Recently, an opsonophagocytic killing (OPK) assay has been developed for GAS by adapting the OPK methods utilized in Streptococcus pneumoniae vaccine testing. This assay uses dimethylformamide (DMF)-differentiated human promyelocytic leukemia cells (HL-60 cells) as a source of neutrophils and baby rabbit complement, thus removing the major sources of variation in the Lancefield assays. This protocol outlines methods for performing a GAS OPK assay including titering test sera to generate an opsonic index. This in vitro assay could aid in selecting vaccine candidates by demonstrating whether candidate-induced antibodies lead to complement deposition and opsonophagocytic killing.


Reuben McGregor, Scott Jones, Raynes M Jeremy, David Goldblatt, Nicole J Moreland. An Opsonophagocytic Killing Assay for the Evaluation of Group A Streptococcus Vaccine Antisera. Methods in molecular biology (Clifton, N.J.). 2020;2136:323-335

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PMID: 32430834

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